Dates of Program: 1983 to 2008
Field of Work: Providing volunteer services for elderly and disabled people through interfaith programs
Problem Synopsis: In 1983, more than 10 million Americans had chronic disabilities limiting their ability to carry on such essential activities of daily living as feeding, dressing, and bathing. Approximately 5 million of these persons were elderly, and the remainder were severely disabled working-age adults or children. Persons with disabling chronic illness usually require a mix of medical and supportive services to help with ordinary activities of daily living such as feeding, bathing, dressing, housekeeping, transportation and, for those who live alone, companionship, in order to live outside of institutions. Medicare and other government programs were able to provide only a small fraction of the personal care and other supportive services that health-impaired persons needed to remain in their own homes.
Synopsis of the Work: From 1983 to 2008, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) funded more than 1,700 projects across the country to support interfaith volunteer caregiving through three national programs. The projects brought together coalitions of congregations, social service organizations and other organizations to engage and organize volunteers to provide services to people in need, especially those who were frail, elderly and homebound.
Over the course of the initiative, beginning with the pilot sites funded in the demonstration phase starting in 1983, RWJF made 1,715 grants to establish new projects (plus the 15 collaboration grants). Faith in Action projects were established in every state, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
As of June 2008, 667 of those projects were active, representing a sustainability rate of 38.9 percent.
In addition, of the projects established under the program's third phase (1999–2008), 359 or 60 percent were still active as of June 2008.
A 2007–2008 telephone survey of 661 projects from all program phases conducted by the University of South Carolina's Institute for Public Service and Policy Research, Columbia, S.C., yielded the following findings: